The cover image is deliberately fuzzy.
I live in a majority minority city. Wise attends a majority minority school. Another white parent, not from his school, recently told me she’d like to consider public schools but in their neighborhood, he might be the only white kid in his class. “But I’m not racist. You know what I mean. Kids need to be around kids like them.” My jaw literally dropped and my eyes bugged. I was only surprised because she said it out loud. I told her I couldn’t give the exact numbers, but even in his optional program classroom, black students outnumber the white. She read my body language and began apologizing.
“I’m not racist. I’m not even from the South.”
That’s the ugly undercurrent of racism throughout this nation. I couldn’t bring myself to berate her at this party, but I told her it wasn’t up to me to accept the apology. I told her I knew exactly what she meant and that I love my school — which is really my son’s school but it feels like mine.
Two weeks ago, I came upon a little boy in the courtyard. He was crying. Another little boy had taken his snack and eaten it. This child was tall, so I was surprised when he told me his teacher’s name, a kindergarten teacher. I took him to his teacher and left him when he got the hug he needed.
But as I walked home, I thought about how I’d assumed he was a third grader. That happens to lots of tall children but as we’ve seen in the press, being tall plays out in a particular way for black children. A refrain played in my mind as I walked home, “Oh my god, what are we going to do to that child as he grows up?” I’ve had similar thoughts on the school yard so often.
Oh my god, what are we going to do to these kids as they grow up? How long are we going to let them be kids? Kids who cry when their Nutty Bars are stolen and their feelings are hurt?